Parents who are searching for healthier food that their children might be willing to eat got a little help last month. Nickelodeon, the popular cable television network that offers programming for children and adolescents, announced plans to put its cartoon characters Spongebob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer in supermarket produce aisles-on packages of such healthy foods as apples, pears, and cherries. The characters already appear on bags of carrots. These placements are part of a campaign to make this and other television networks appear to be on the side of the angels, promoting healthy eating habits among the young.
The Nickelodeon announcement came at the same time the Kaiser Family Foundation released the findings of a study that examined the Web sites hosted by most of the food brands advertised on television-sites that had more than 12.2 million visits from children between 2 and 11 years old in the second quarter of 2005. The nutritional value of the great majority of foods advertised on those Web sites and on the television screen is dubious; will SpongeBob's image on a bag of carrots help to counteract all this? Parents, and pediatricians, stay tuned!